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Zombie filmmaker George Romero cut his teeth in the steel city

Did you know legendary zombie filmmaker George A. Romero went to Carnegie Mellon University? Upon graduating in 1961 from the college, which was called Carnegie Institute of Technology at the time, Romero concentrated on directing short films along with commercials before co-writing the masterpiece “Night of the Living Dead.” Eerily filmed in black in white 30 miles north of Pittsburgh in Evans City, this reimagined zombie apocalypse caused many sleepless nights during the late 1960s. At the time “Night of the Living Dead” was considered to be a grisly film. By today’s standards of what is considered gore, this movie wouldn’t match up to the Romero-inspired zombie films or television shows like “The Walking Dead,” “28 Days Later,” “World War Z” or “From Dusk Til Dawn.” Countless zombie films have plagued the airwaves decades after his cult classic reached the cinemas.

Did you know that while he created his iconic movie while a Pittsburgher, Romero was actually born in New York City? His father, Jorge Romero, was a commercial artist who created visual imagery to promote sales for brands. George Romero soon became a visual artist like his father, starting his career by making instructional films and television commercials.

Did you know Night of the Living Dead was rated a box office blockbuster? Domestically, the film grossed more than $12 million. Internationally it made $18 million and the Worldwide box office raked in more than $30 million. The production budget was only $114,000, so the film garnered Romero a hefty sum of cash. Night of the Living Dead made cult classic history and spawned the 1978 “Dawn of the Dead.”

Did you know scenes from “Dawn of the Dead” were filmed at Monroeville Mall? This haunting vision of society gone mad by an epidemic of flesh-eating zombies that have risen from the grave hit the theaters in 1978, adding to Romero’s horror catalog of movies and inspiring up-and-coming filmmakers like Zack Snyder to remake the movie in later years. After his success with “Dawn of the Dead,” Romero wrote and directed “Day of the Dead” in 1985, followed by “Land of the Dead” (2005), “Diary of the Dead” (2008) and “Survival of the Dead” (2010).

Did you know “Day of the Dead” was deemed a box office flop? Domestically, the movie generated only $5.8 million. Even semi-positive reviews from acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert couldn’t keep this sequel from massively underwhelming audiences. Still, Romero continued to attract a cult following even after his death on July 16, 2017.

Did you know Romero frequently cast African Americans in prominent roles or as heroes in his films? Even though Romero did not write predetermined ethnicities into his roles, he went against the usual Hollywood horror stereotype of killing off African American characters within the first couple minutes. This may sound mundane, but to the African American community, Romero’s films pioneered inclusion for people of color.


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